The FEI World Equestrian Games™ were in many ways the logical conclusion of many decades and looking further back many millennia of horsemanship and tradition. HRH Prince Philip was not only one of the strongest voices in support of the project but also one of the originators of the idea, which had been floating around since at least the 1980s in serious form. Initially the notion had lent more towards a one-off event but the eventual success of the games meant a sequel was guaranteed upon their completion.
But what do the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) actually involve? They are held every four years, halfway between Summer Olympics and group together the World Championships for all the FEI disciplines instead of these being hosted separately for each discipline. Currently they run over two weeks. Every four years a different international location is chosen to host them. Lisbon and Rome were nearly awarded the Games for the first WEG in 1990, but in the end Stockholm had the honour, possibly due to the superb memories generated from the Olympics Games they had held in 1912 and 1956.
Stockholm’s 1912 Olympic stadium was designated as the main arena for the 1990 WEG. It was an enormous undertaking for all involved: it has to be remembered that it was the first time in modern history that such a momentous and far-reaching event had been set up in equestrian sport involving all the FEI disciplines. The excellence of the Organisational Committee and Swedish National Federation contributed to the exceptionally smooth running of the Games. Sponsorship and ticketing revenue surpassed hopes and a study confirmed the benefits for Stockholm’s economy created by hosting the Games. Sweden as a whole gained in terms of the renewed and energised interest in equestrianism.
The weather that year in Stockholm was glorious, contributing to the huge sense of optimism and momentum the first FEI World Equestrian Games™ generated. As we will see, they were a hard act to follow...